Being a leader isn’t always about leading others. Following can be its own form of leadership.
Being a follower has impressive powers. In an older article: Lead by Following, I reference its importance, but today I wanted to talk about one power in particular.
Let me start by asking a few questions, how do you expect others to look to you for improvement if you are unable to seek improvement yourself? How do you expect others to take your advice if you don’t understand what it takes to accept advice?
Having the ability to be lead shows the people you are leading that you have empathy for what you are asking. This is important. You will be a better leader if you yourself can be led.
Below is a reminder of skills that you probably expect your people to display, but are also skills that you need to be practicing yourself. Practice what you preach right?
Always view what your leader is saying as a perspective different from your own. We often get tunnel vision when we hone in on work. It’s essential to gain insight from someone who is not as involved as us. Keeping that in mind will help when you get uncomfortable feedback. Instead of jumping straight to the defense, take a deep breath and listen. You can help your leader be successful by engaging during their coaching sessions.
When a leader is trying to achieve a desired outcome, an unprompted question like “How can I help you be successful?” will go along way. If you have a passionate leader, they are just as likely to bite off more than they can chew as anyone else. When this happens, be there to support them as they would for you. If your people see you do this for others, they will mimic the behavior to you.
Be a Public Follower
If your leader is trying to lead change, you can help them by publicly endorsing them. That can be as easy as saying, “I think that’s an interesting idea” or “I think it’s worth giving it a try.” Leaders need followers and being a first follower is its own type of leadership. Your support may be the first step in the leader gaining the support of the others.
Your leader is accountable for your actions. Don’t let them be blindsided by anything that could have been prevented with simple communication. Update your leader with as much information as possible without burdening them with details they don’t need. I recognize this is a fine line to walk. Try to distill everything you believe they would find useful into a One-on-One session. Bad stuff included. Ask yourself, “would I want to know if I were in their position?”
These are 4 simple things that I try to think about on a daily basis. Even as a leader, I’m a follower to someone. That’s how I grow, and if you keep these in mind as you move through your career, they will be a way for you to grow as well. And remember, your actions will always set an example for those around you. So being good at being led will help you coach the people you are trying to lead.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. As always you can follow me on social media @ShaunHallTalk. Also, check out my new podcast where we talk about productivity in all aspects of life. Check it out at Hustle and Harmony. Thanks!
Feature photo credit: https://www.twenty20.com/photos/6f959727-461f-4779-b62a-15feb2f2b1f7/?utm_t20_channel=bl